05 June 2013

A sealed-bottle garden

Gardener David Latimer, 80, from Cranleigh in Surrey, first planted his bottle garden in 1960 and finally sealed it tightly shut 12 years later - yet it's still going strong...

It absorbs solar energy from daylight, water from the moisture it creates, carbon dioxide and nutrients from the composted leaves that it drops and produces oxygen in the cycle...

After he sealed the 10 gallon bottle with a bung three of the species faded and died, but the fourth flourished and continues to grow... The retired electrical engineer has only watered the plant twice, the last time in 1972 when he oiled the plastic stopper so that it wedged so tightly it hasn't been out since. 
I tried to do this many years ago and failed miserably.  Some details on the methodology at the link, via Nag on the Lake


  1. While I don't permanently seal mine, I've had good luck making terrariums by that don't go funky by using the following method:

    1. get a nice jar
    2. cover the bottom with an inch of coarse gravel or pebbles (natural aquarium gravel works great)
    3. cover the gravel with a layer of sphagnum moss
    4. cover the moss with a thin layer of aquarium filter charcoal
    5. cover the charcoal with more moss (the moss/charcoal sandwich acts like a filter to keep the water trickling down to the gravel from getting funky)
    6. add soil and sculpt with rocks
    7. add plant(s). Partridge berries work great.
    8. cover with glass plate, cork, or lid.

    add water only when no condensation appears on the inside of the glass jar.

  2. I wonder when new life will start to appear in this now parallel planet

  3. Why do you add water when condensation appears on inside of jar? I would have thought the condensation inside would be enough to keep the plants? I am new at this, have decided to recycle my biorb fish tank into a garden.

    1. I believe Zak said to add water "only when NO condensation appears" (i.e. the bottle has developed a leak and is losing moisture).


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